Disgruntled students

Sometimes, the job of lecturer is given too lightly to someone who isn’t qualified nor capable of teaching. This is a fact I have learned during my one and a half years at university so far. The quality of the teaching varies massively throughout the department, with some excellent and some appalling lecturers, both of which I’ve had a taste of. However, it’s almost always the case that the best lecturers have planned and created comprehensive notes, reading lists and slides for the students, while the worst skim information from books without thought to how effective it is in teaching the subject to students.

A lot of the time, I find the lecturer has just lifted the slides directly from a book, or the books resources. It shows very little forward planning of the lecture material, especially when all the lecturer does is teach out of a book. If they do that, then they should make copies of the book avaliable free of charge to everyone who needs it, seeing as we’ve already paid a huge amount in tuition fees, and they should tailor topics around and with what is covered in the book, instead of trying to teach anything and everything. They should also reference where in the book they are teaching from, so any extra work required is much quicker due to the fact that us poor students don’t have to go through the whole book trying to find the topic.

Lecture slides are one of the most important and effective tools a lecturer can leverage to teach with. However, poorly written slides can plague the teaching process, and also hamper students revising for exams. My biggest complaint with lecture slides is ambiguity. While the lecturer might explain certain things on a slide and so in the lecture and we can annotate it where needed, looking back at a slide it should make perfect sense without annotations or explaination, especially when it’s the only source of reading material. I’m currently reading a slide that has the following information on it:

Promiscuous mode

  • Useful for network analysers (sniffers)
  • Security implications

To me, that slide has very little meaning at all. It doesn’t explain clearly what promiscuous mode is, all it gives is an example of what is possible with it, which it also doesn’t explain. It doesn’t explain what a network analyser is, and also what security implications there are. It’s left to me to garnish the slide with extra information, none of which I can know is relevent to the course being taught. Of course, I could ask the lecturer for more information, but this kind of ambiguity crops up so much that I would be forever inundating them with requests for clarity that they’ll eventually inform the police that I am a stalker. Also it’s too much effort and I can’t be bothered, especially as these questions usually goto the lecturers who give the least shit.

While there might be training and a vetting process for teaching in lower education, there is no industry wide standard for further education teaching and training. This needs to be fixed, although getting universities to adopt it is going to be very difficult.

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